After hearing good things about it and reading rave reviews from my cohorts and elsewhere, I decided to give "R.E.B.E.L.S." a shot. There's one major problem with jumping in on a new series with issue #4: you wind up in the middle of other stuff. A lot of other stuff.
Tony Bedard has filled this book to the absolute brim with bits and pieces from across the DC Universe, without soaking up things that have a tendency to be overplayed (Rann, Thanagar, I'm looking at you). It was painfully obvious to me that I missed a little bit just jumping in with this issue. For instance, I have absolutely no clue who the female character is on the cover. None. Nor do I know how Dox came to be in the position he is in. Last I saw Dox (oddly enough, back in the "Rann/Thanagar War") he was elsewhere doing other things, not trying to scrounge a team together. But I digress. Bedard has assembled a cast from across the cosmos and lined up an equally insidious foe -– Starro the Conqueror! That's not even mentioning the Khunds, allied with a Durlan, nor the Dominators.
Claude St. Aubin must have fainted when he saw this script. Either that or he was plowed under by the sheer tonnage of reference material he almost certainly received for this gig. With that in mind, St. Aubin delivers an amazing ode to overkill, from the bajillion and one starfish floating throughout the book to the believable range of expressions on Amon Hakk's face in the opening sequence.
The fantastic art, coupled with the location boxes, character identity tags and steady pacing make this book an action adventure read worth looking into. The fact that I was able to pick this book up mid-stream, and continue to read it cover-to-cover despite the fact that I am uninformed of much of what has come before is how this book earns it's four starfish –- er, stars. Now that I've jumped into the deep end of the pool, I'm in no hurry to get out. Unless, of course, that was a starfish that just attached itself to my leg.
Do yourself a great big favor before you take a similar plunge: wait for the trade for this first arc or borrow the first few issues from a pal. Maybe you'll luck out and your local shop still has the first three issues. Grab them and read them before #4. It'll make the whole story more palatable.